If you want to test new marketing approaches, you may be apprehensive about hiring new talent. When you hire new people, you risk a cultural misfit between the style and approach of your organization and a new hire. If it doesn’t work out between you and a new employee after a few months, there is a lot of lose-lose for all parties concerned.
You have made a costly mistake with the hire. The employee has possibly given up a good position and may have relocated. The employer gives on new ideas when it may actually have only been company cultural barriers, skills of the employee, or a lack of commitment to fund digital initiatives.
Here are eight recommendations, with complete acknowledgement this is a biased perspective coming from my personal experience of having started new departments to lay the groundwork before hiring a new employee.
- Retain a Consultant First. Bring on an independent consultant to work with your organization a few hours or days a week to create your new department, or your new infrastructure. This individual should be expected to work with you for several months and be made responsible for several initiatives outlined in the following points.
- Create a Digital Marketing Plan. Your consultant should be versed in more than basic Websites and email marketing. The plan probably includes development of a content marketing plan, using multiple cross-channel media, that is designed to bring in leads. Perhaps the role includes the introduction of customer relationship management (CRM) software. The plan might also include acquisition of marketing automation system that enables sophisticated nurture marketing programs to integrate direct mail, email, personalized microsites, social, mobile, content marketing and more.
- Fund It. You must be ready to invest the money it will require to see results. Be prepared for this transition to take anywhere from six to twelve months of refinement before it’s clear how this can work for you. This can be challenging if your company is seeing slowly declining sales, but the alternative isn’t so rosy. If you wait too long, you won’t need to worry about funding it as your company slowly disappears into non-existence.
- Empower. As a business owner or senior manager, obviously you’re going to want to have input in the digital marketing plan and how your company’s money is invested. But you must accept that to be successful you’ll need to empower people to make decisions on your behalf. Of course, with empowerment comes accountability on the part of the consultant and your staff.
- Your Company Culture May Be Stressed. Chances are that if you’ve brought on a consultant (or fulltime new hire) to make change, your staff will feel threatened. Budget dollars that went to fund existing marketing initiatives are likely diverted to new initiatives. That will create anxiety and stress from current long-time staff. And it’s human nature for people to become hostile, passive-aggressive, and even work to discreetly sabotage new efforts.
- The Org Chart May Change. The consultant you contract with should be able to objectively evaluate individual staff’s strengths so they are placed in a role where your current employees come out winners. The organizational chart will probably evolve during this process.
- Be Flexible and Agile. The future belongs to companies that are flexible and agile. If your culture is slow and overly methodical, ask yourself if you’re willing to leave your comfort zone. If not, reread the last sentence in #3 above.
- Your Plan to Transition from Consultant to Full-Time Staff. A consultant’s responsibility will be to create a transition plan to hand off the keys to new initiatives and processes that have been created (and proven) for your new fulltime hire. Often, the consultant works with an Executive Recruiter to identify a replacement, and stays on for a few weeks after the new hire starts to ensure a smooth transition. Sometimes, a consultant is asked to stay on fulltime, but consider that a consultant is most likely energized by “the chase,” so to speak, and will want to move on to help reinvent the next company.
Following these eight steps will set up better odds for a win-win for employer and employee. By the time a new-hire is on board, the organization has had time to absorb and accept cultural change. Assuming the outcome is successful, this process gives confidence to not only the employer, but the new hire and the entire staff. Most importantly, you have broadened your approaches to reach your market through digital channels that are capturing more of their time and attention